By now anyone who has studied the 2012 Super Bowl matchup between the New York Giants and New England Patriots knows that the Giants defense has got to pressure Patriots quarterback Tom Brady to have a chance to win the game. The Giants did that successfully in the 2008 Super Bowl and again in a 24-20 regular-season victory this season.
Can they do it again? The Giants have said they want to "kill the snake," referring to Brady. To do that, the Giants front four will have to win its matchup with the New England offensive line.
Giants fans know all about Jason Pierre-Paul, Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck, Chris Canty and the rest of the Giants' vaunted defensive line. Let's look at the guys who will be trying to block them.
In his first press conference after the Patriots landed in Indianapolis on Sunday, Brady addressed the pass rush of the Giants, saying "it seems whoever they put in there can get after the passer," and adding that "I put a lot of trust in my offensive line."
Let's look at the players who line up in front of Brady and will try to keep him upright.
Matt Light (Left Tackle) -- Light is an 11-year veteran who has been named to the Pro Bowl three times and was an All-Pro in 2007. There is no love lost between Light and Umenyiora, who have twice engaged in fights. Light will have to handle Umenyiora, Dave Tollefson and Pierre-Paul at various times. Light remains an upper echelon tackle. Per Pro Football Focus he allowed four sacks, seven quarterback hits and 24 pressures this season. He had an overall grade of +8.1
Logan Mankins (Left Guard) -- A seven-year veteran, Mankins is a n excellent player. He has been named to the Pro Bowl four times, including each of the past three seasons. He was an All-Pro in 2010. Mankins allowed four sacks, four hits and 15 pressures this season, compiling a pedestrian +0.4 grade. A season ago, Mankins was +19.9.
Dan Connolly (Center) -- A five-year veteran who started 24 games total the past two seasons for New England. Connolly, 6-4, 311 pounds, allowed one sack, six hits and 12 pressures this season. His PFF grade was -5.0.
Brian Waters (Right Guard) -- A six-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro, Waters came to the Patriots this season as a free agent after spending 11 seasons in Kansas City. Waters paid dividends, going to the Pro Bowl while allowing two sacks, three hits and seven pressures in 16 games. His +20.2 PFF rating was fourth-best among all NFL guards.
Nate Solder (Right Tackle) -- The extremely tall rookie (6-foot-8, 319 pounds) is a guy many Giants were hoping for a year ago. He started 13 games for the Patriots and played pretty well for a rookie. He allowed three sacks, four hits and 26 quarterback pressures. His PFF grade was -2.2.
Summary -- The Giants had some success getting to Brady earlier in the season with two sacks and a forced fumble, but they did have to send some extra people to get it done. Most likely that will be the case again.